Thursday, September 3, 2009

On the set at Quilting Arts TV

Pokey Bolton, editor of Quilting Arts magazine, and me, getting ready to shoot my first segment.

I just returned from Cleveland, where I was shooting two segments for Quilting Arts TV, and a Quilting Arts Workshop DVD. What a wonderful, nerve-wracking, exhilarating couple of days! Let me show you some of the people I met, and what I did.

It was a journey without auspicious beginnings. As my husband was checking me in for my rental car, he discovered that my driver’s license was expired. For almost a year. Not only could I not get a rental car, we were not even sure I’d be able to get on the plane, since you use your license as a photo ID. I had a passport, but wasn’t it in the safe deposit box at the bank? The bank that would not open in time for me to retrieve the passport and get to my plane on time? Luckily, no. My passport was here, in the house. Whew! I’d have to take a taxi to the studio and the hotel, but that was small potatoes.

By early afternoon, I had arrived at the taping studio in the outskirts of Cleveland with my humongous suitcase packed with all my “step-outs” (samples showing each step of the process I was demonstrating), light board, paints, paintbrushes, fabric, batting, threads, and several changes of clothing for the shoots. Here’s how the set looks from the doorway:

In the green room (where people wait to go on the set), the amazingly sweet, patient, and ever-smiling Jeanne Cook Delpit, director of national events for Bernina of America, was helping everyone get ready to stitch on the great Bernina machines they use on the set:

A few people who had either finished their segments, or who were setting up for the next day were there:

Sarah Vedeler, me, Jeanne Cook Delpit, Dianne Giancola, and Natalya Aikens

Sarah Vedeler was showing off her incredible digitized designs on silk. She had finished her segment already and was in the calm-and-collected zone, popping off photos and posts to Facebook.

Dianne Giancola from Rit Dye was setting up some samples of amazing shibori dyeing done with Rit dyes:

Natalya Aikens had filmed her TV segments and was getting ready to work on her Workshop DVD. Natalya grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Russian fairytales feature prominently in her exquisite highly embellished and layered work.

Somehow I missed taking a photo of Teri Harris Lucas, machine quilter extraordinairre! How did that happen? I think it was because she was taping when I had my camera out. Teri was giving tips for free-motion quilting, and had her gorgeous quilt Twilight in the Bronx on the set. I’m stealing her photo to show you:

On the day of my taping (Wednesday), I hitched a ride in to the studio with Jeanne and started getting all my materials organized. Jeanne helped me set up the Aurora 440 and adjust my tension settings for both free-motion machine quilting and thread sketching segments in my Workshop DVD.

One by one, people were called in to makeup, and then to shoot their segments on the set. The makeup artist told me I was very fair skinned and should be using SPF 70 all the time, and showed me how to tweeze my eyebrows correctly. Pokey darted in and out, changing outfits for each segment, and working on her laptop in between. When a segment was being taped, we watched it on a big screen in the green room.

Laura Gunn (below) was showing off her line of fabrics for Michael Miller called “Lantern Bloom.” Lots of gorgeous bittersweet orange and turquoise and green, and some darling garments made from them.

Mary Hettmansperger (below) makes exquisite arts quilts embellished with innovative metal embellishments. I didn’t realize until I got home and looked at her website that she also makes lovely baskets and jewelry to die for. She is the author of Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet: Making Designer Metal Jewelry, and Fabulous Woven Jewelry: Plaiting, Coiling, Knotting, Looping & Twining with Fiber and Metal.

Sue Cavanaugh does incredible stitch-resist shibori. I was practically drooling over her work, which is intensely stitched with heavy cord designed for beading, pulled tight and knotted, dyed several times, then hand stitched. Sue had a piece in Quilt National 2009! Here she is (on the left) explaining her stitching technique to Dianne:

Later in the afternoon, I met Carol Taylor, who also had a piece (“Abundance”) in Quilt National 2009! I had seen Carol’s work in several quilt shows and really admired it. She was there to shoot Quilting Arts TV segments and a workshop DVD. I had dinner with Carol and really enjoyed getting to know her. Some of her recent work has yarns and other fibers couched on top in circles:

Pretty soon, the list posted on the green room door looked like this, with only one guest before me:


First I did my two Quilting Arts TV segments with Pokey. I carried my tray of materials onto the set and got ready:

I put all the samples out on the table and then Pokey and the production staff ran through the order of everything, suggested adjustments and gave me good tips:

Here’s how it looks from the other side of the table. Dark in the back, big and cavernous, with only the three camera-men and big, bright lights shining in your face:

Looking up is almost as intimidating, with giant lights and wiring high overhead:

I had to retape the first chunk of the Workshop, and a tiny bit of the last chunk, but they told me I had done a passable job and that I seemed confident, so I guess I faked it fairly well! ;-)

The TV segments were very easy, with Pokey by my side asking great questions and guiding me along. The Workshop shoot was more intimidating, since I had to be up there for 60-75 minutes, talking and teaching completely by myself, with three cameras on me (one straight on, to look into; one for the overhead shots of my work and samples; and one shooting the machine work).

I’m happy to say that I made it to the end of the day without 1) vomiting on Pokey, 2)passing out, or 3) bursting into tears. By about 5:30 p.m., both of the TV segments and the Workshop DVD were “in the can.” Gee, I’m glad I took that high school acting class, and participated in a few high school musicals. I just put on my stage persona, took a deep breath, and started rolling.

Stress? Yes. But it was also tons of fun. I met some amazing artists and got to talk to them about their work, and had wonderfully helpful, kind people helping me every step of the way. Here are two of them, Jeanne and Helen Gregory, managing editor for Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors, goofing off in the green room:

Quilting Arts TV airs on public television stations across the country. The 500 series shot this week will air starting in December. I think one of my segments will be on the first episode, 501. The other should be in episode 513. The Workshop DVD should be available this fall.